Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Jeff Flake deserves the nomination - The Arizona Republic

A bruising, expensive primary race has revealed that Rep. Jeff Flake, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, is not a perfect conservative.

One need not have spent $7.5 million (and counting) of one's own money, as Flake's primary opponent has done, to figure that out. Flake has not been shy about acknowledging these purported "failings." They include:

  • A sincere desire to resolve illegal immigration in a humane way, albeit with a more secure border.

  • A long-running interest in reopening trade with Cuba, which he sees as the key to ousting the Castros and their totalitarian regime.

And that's about it. For some of us, Flake's congressional legacy includes certain other concerns. But those almost all arise not from having spurned conservative principles, but from clinging to them so fiercely.

He is the Capitol's reigning guerilla fighter against the pork-spending practice of "earmarking." Arizona political leaders have complained for years about his steadfast resistance to directing spending projects our way, even defense-related spending that has to be spent somewhere. In somebody's home state.

Similarly, he has been reluctant to wade into Arizona-specific matters, notably involving economic development. Again, it is those nettlesome conservative principles getting in the way.

We cite these Jeff Flake "issues" -- which, let's be honest, are mostly attributes in a Republican primary race -- because Flake's main opponent in the primary, Mesa investor Wil Cardon, has spent his millions on campaign ads that often grossly distort Flake's tenure as a lawmaker.

To attempt to cast Flake as some kind of power-brokering Washington insider, as Cardon has done, is just at odds with reality. Jeff Flake has lost committee assignments and earned the enmity of GOP administrations precisely for being such a principled, conservative pain in the neck.

As for Cardon, the novice candidate has issues of his own, including some real concerns about a topic, illegal immigration, that Cardon has pushed front and center.

A company in which Cardon has both investment and management interests, RCC Partners, was fined by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2010 for failure to maintain "valid documentation" of employees of sandwich shops it owns.

The federal "documentation" legalese disguises some serious issues. Thirty of 49 current employees were determined to be undocumented alien workers, and 121 of 269 former employees likewise "were not authorized for employment."

Cardon has downplayed his role in the company's hiring practices and contends the company simply had to accept the often-forged paperwork that applicants supplied at hiring. That's disingenuous, especially for a candidate who has thumped his chest as a no-excuses border warrior and a "hands on" jobs creator.

In an era in which Republicans are pining for true conservatives, they have the practically perfect real deal in Jeff Flake.

The Republic recommends Flake over Cardon and two other primary opponents for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate.

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